Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Chocolate Cherry Sourdough Bread

Today is National Sourdough Bread Day, and I've blogged about Chocolate Sourdough Bread in the past. So in honor of National Sourdough Bread Day here's an updated post that includes a great recipe for Dark Chocolate Tart Cherry Levain as well as links to other recipes for Chocolate Sourdough Bread!
I used to love to bake bread, but I haven't done as much recently, probably because I live in the San Francisco Bay area. We have so many fabulous bakeries, that sometimes it's just easier to buy bread.

One bread that that I really liked to bake that is especially appropriate to this blog is Chocolate Cherry Sourdough. I still haven't been able to locate my recipe, but I have found several recipes on The Fresh Loaf, a great site for "News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts."

JMonkey's Blog February 11, 2007 has a great recipe for Chocolate Cherry Sourdough Bread. Terrific photos and instructions. This recipe seems very close to the one I used to use. There are a few comments I'm unclear on, so my recommendation is to do what you usually do. I bake in a gas oven. I have three ovens: convection, gas, and electric, but for baking, I like the gas oven. I have an old O'Keefe & Merritt that I've refurbished, so it's pretty accurate on temperature.

This recipe for Chocolate Cherry Sourdough Bread elicited a lot of discussion on The Fresh Loaf, and I found another recipe, this time for a Dark Chocolate Tart Cherry Levain posted by unbreadman, December 2, 2007. These recipes complement each other, so have a look at both before you decide to try one.

Dark Chocolate Tart Cherry Levain

1 1/2 lbs Bread Flour (Golden Buffalo)
1 lb 2 ounces water
1/2 ounce salt
Small amount of refreshed sourdough culture (adjust depending on taste/rising time preference)
8 ounces dark chocolate, broken into small bits
12 ounces dried tart cherries (I've used both Chukars and Trader Joe's)

Soak cherries for at least 30 minutes to remove any added sugar and prevent burning
Mix flour, salt, and water until fully hydrated, let sit for 30 minutes (can do while cherries soak)
Cut up levain, add to dough with cherries, mix until fully distributed, knead to develop gluten, but be gentle so as not to destroy cherry integrity.
Bulk ferment until approx 1.5x volume increase, folding once* halfway through.
*During fold, add chocolate bits in between each fold over. JMonkey's blog illustrates this well.
Very gently shape loaf, trying not to puncture future crust. While it's not tragic if it does happen, if there's a leak, chocolate can leak out and burn, and it might make you a little sad. But you'll be fine! It's okay!
Bake on preheated stone with steam at 400-425F.
LET COOL BEFORE CUTTING. Molten Chocolate is very hot! It will burn, so it is imperative that you resist the nearly irresistable urge to eat this bread.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015


The other day I saw a recipe in the Wall Street Journal for Chocolate Covered Figs for Passover. This jolted my memory of all the fig recipes I've posted in the past. Figs are great any time of year and for any and all holidays! You can use fresh or dried! You have plenty of time to make any of the following recipes or you can buy Vice Chocolates' Dark Chocolate Bar with Fig & Anise. It's one of my favorite chocolate fig combinations!

The first two recipes are for Chocolate Covered Dried Figs. The first is alcoholic, because who doesn't love a drunken fig? The second recipe calls for stuffing the dried figs with walnuts, but contains no alcohol. Actually you can mix and match these recipes to come up with whatever you think is perfect for you! The third recipe is for Chocolate Covered Fresh Figs. They're in my market, so be sure and check to see if you can get them. Love the taste and texture of figs and chocolate! As always, use the very best chocolate and figs! Different chocolate, different figs, different tastes!

1. Chocolate Covered Drunken Dried Figs

20 dried figs
10 ounces 65-75% dark chocolate, chopped fine
1/4 cup sweet butter
pinch of sea salt

Put figs in bowl and cover with rum. Let soak, covered, overnight in refrigerator.
Next day, drain well and pat dry.
Put chopped chocolate into top of double boiler, stirring. Add butter, stirring until smooth.
Take figs by stems and dip in chocolate several times, covering completely.
Put figs on rack over cookie sheet to catch drips.
Sprinkle sparingly with sea salt
When finished dipping, chill figs in refrigerator.

2. Non-Alcoholic Chocolate Covered Figs Stuffed with Walnuts

9 figs, dried
9 walnut halves
5  Tbsp dark chocolate (60-75%), chopped

Make small incisions in bottoms of 9 dried figs and stuff each with walnut half.
Melt chocolate in double boiler until smooth.
Holding stem, dip stuffed figs into chocolate.
Let them drip from rack over cookie sheet, or place on plate or wax paper.
Put the chocolate covered figs on the plate or waxed paper in the refrigerator for 10 minutes or more until chocolate hardens.

3. Chocolate Covered Fresh Figs I don't have any 'real' measurements for this, but it's pretty basic and easy!

Line a cookie sheet with waxed or parchment paper. 
Melt dark chocolate (I like very dark chocolate, but anything 60% cacao or over would be great) in microwave or on top of double boiler over simmering water, until smooth.
Hold top of fig with your fingers and dip into melted chocolate, covering only bottom part.
Place chocolate covered fig on cookie sheet covered with parchment.
Repeat with remaining figs.
Put chocolate covered figs in refrigerator for 15 minutes or so until chocolate is set.
If you're not eating them right away, keep them in the fridge for up to 12 hours.

As different types of figs come into the market, experiment.
You might want to dip the chocolate covered figs in chopped nuts before putting on the cookie sheet.
Use different figs, different chocolate.
You can't go wrong!  

Photo: Vice Chocolates Dark Chocolate Bar with Fig & Anise

Monday, March 30, 2015

Easter Chocolate Molds: Bunnies, Eggs & Chicks, oh my!

I adore Chocolate Molds, particularly the older metal ones. Here are a few great Chocolate Molds for Easter!  It's all about Bunnies, Eggs and Chicks, oh My!

Happy Birthday to Me!

Happy Birthday to Me! Happy Birthday to Me! So for today's Birthday, I'm posting several Retro Birthday Cake Ads!